Translating silent whispers into colours and shapes: encaustic wax art

6 September 2023 – Vol 1, Issue 1.

One of the mediums I use to create art is encaustic wax. The process involves using a small hot iron to melt pigmented wax, and applying it to a card. The hot wax then dries out quickly, forming abstract shapes.

Encaustic wax artist, Natalie Dekel (MPhil). Three views of the process of making two separate works about Chi movements, 2019. Photos: Gil Dekel.

Encaustic wax artist, Natalie Dekel (MPhil). Three views of the process of making two separate works about Chi movements, 2019. Photos: Gil Dekel.

I have found that this medium not only allows for creative expression but also helps to connect with deeper aspects of oneself. It allows to open up to the unseen energies that seem to surround us, and experience the inner worlds of imagination and spirituality.

Working with this particular method (using iron, heat and coloured wax) does not allow for much control. There is no brush to hold and navigate on the card, so precise control is difficult. Although it is possible to try and create an image that you have in mind, I have found that due to the shape of the iron and the speed with which the hot wax melts and then dries out, I can only control the image to a certain degree. In a way, the work’s formation becomes independent. The feeling is that the work comes out straight from my heart and gut feeling, without much conscious intervention.

‘Him’, by Natalie Dekel, 2012. Encaustic Wax.

‘Him’, by Natalie Dekel, 2012. Encaustic Wax.

This ‘flowing’ process encourages me to choose colours in an intuitive way. I enter a state of attuning my senses to subtle emotions and energies, and ‘allowing’ the work’s muse to express itself. This is akin to meditation or guided visualization.

In a way, I am closing my eyes when choosing colours. When the artist closes their eyes, they are shutting out distractions from the external world and turning their attention inwards. This creates a space where the mind can quiet down.

Intuitive colour selection is a powerful practice as it helps to pick the colours that are associated with emotions, feelings, and energies. Different colours can evoke various emotional responses and can symbolize different aspects of the self or the spiritual realm. By choosing colours based on intuition rather than conscious thought, I access a more authentic and unfiltered form of expression.

Grounding - by (c) Natalie Dekel, 2013.

‘Grounding’, Natalie Dekel, 2013.

Imagination and intuition come from the hypothalamus area in the back of the head. This is the centre of so-called psychic abilities. In the Yogic tradition, we teach that there is a pearl of immortality at the back of the head. You gain energy when you access this area. I suspect there is something there that truly controls all these ‘non-realistic’ sides of our existence. We cannot explain logically every single thing that happens in our lives. In fact, logic can be quite limited at times, especially when we try to understand emotional behaviours.

As I apply the hot wax to the surface, I engage in a physical and tactile experience that serves as a bridge between the internal and external worlds. The act of working with one’s hands and the sensory experience of manipulating the wax can facilitate a deeper connection to the present moment, allowing for a profound exploration of thoughts.

‘Chi Movement #1’, by Natalie Dekel, 2019.

‘Chi Movement #1’, by Natalie Dekel, 2019.

The more we learn to be aware of how our body works energetically and spiritually as well as physically, the more we will know to connect to intuition and feel more present in this reality.

The interesting thing about this artistic technique is that it produces images formed of both colour and line (the tip of the iron can form lines). Lines hint at a representational art, since naturally, we tend to perceive lines as the boundaries that form shapes. We automatically search for shapes bound in lines, trying to understand a structure inherent in the abstract image.

Angel YofiEl - by Natalie Dekel, June 2011.

‘YofiEl ‘, by Natalie Dekel, 2011.

The encaustic wax itself carries a unique quality as it transitions from a solid to a liquid state, and then back to a solid as it cools down. This transformation can metaphorically represent the fluidity of the human experience and the ever-changing nature of emotions and perceptions. In a sense, the process mirrors the cyclical nature of life itself.

By allowing intuitive senses to guide my work, I open up to receive messages, insights, or even symbolic imagery from an imaginary world, the so-called spirit realm. This can be seen as a form of channelling, where the artist becomes a conduit for energies beyond their own understanding. This is not a new idea. William Blake argued that he does nothing, but rather that the spirit works through him.

‘Chi Movement #4’, by Natalie Dekel, 2019.

‘Chi Movement #4’, by Natalie Dekel, 2019.

The resulting artwork becomes a visual representation of this connection between the artist’s inner self and the spirit world. Each stroke of colour, each texture, and each layer of wax can hold meaning and significance that transcend the surface’s appearance.

Perhaps this unconscious reflection occurs while creating these images because most human mental and emotional experiences exist unconsciously, below the surface of perception and beyond the reach of voluntary purposeful thinking. Within this hidden oasis lie strong, untamed and irrational forces that give life and definition to what it means to be an artist.

Angel GabriEl - by Natalie Dekel, June 2011.

‘GabriEl’, by Natalie Dekel, 2011.

Painting is a compulsive urge; a way in which I express myself. I feel better and more confident to express the little nuances I see around me in visual forms than in words, maybe because I speak several languages and none of them is actually my own, as such. So, whatever I could describe in words is less significant than seeing an image that can strike you, ‘Yes, that’s me!’

In essence, encaustic wax painting becomes a sacred practice, a form of meditation, and a way to bridge the gap between the material and spiritual aspects of life.

About the author

Natalie Dekel, MPhil, is an accredited hypnotherapist (dip HSOH), Reiki Master/Teacher and visionary artist.  She has completed her research in Art, Design & Media at Leeds Beckett University. Natalie works with clients using hypnotherapy and other forms of healing and wellbeing therapies such as Reiki, Access Bar, Hatha Yoga, Integrated energy and spiritual guidance. She is also Yoga Teacher and trained in Integrated Energy Therapy (IET). Natalie co-authored the ‘Energy Book’, available on Amazon.